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Great acting hallmarks the BBC's finest hour

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 15, 2012

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No! It was one of those moments when my husband and I look at each other in horror. A television cliffhanger on a favourite drama.

There have been plenty of "no!" moments with Spooks and crime dramas like Prime Suspect in the past. This week it was the final episode of the brilliant The Hour which elicited the familiar gasp.

Journalist Freddie was laying on the grass outside the BBC, beaten to a pulp. There was a flicker of life in his eyes and then... roll credits. No!

What a great series this has been with two fantastic final episodes on consecutive nights (BBC One, Wednesday and Thursday).

The final part was a real rollercoaster – Freddie (Ben Whishaw) declaring his love for Bel (Romola Garai), Hector (Dominic West) finding some kind of warmth in his marriage to Marnie (Oona Chaplin), shamed police inspector Laurie (Peter Sullivan) blowing his brains out and Freddie distracting the corrupt Cilenti (Vincent Riotta) by taking a beating so that good time girl Kiki (Hannah Tointon) could spill the beans on live TV.

It was a marked contrast to the previous night when Anna Chancellor and Peter Capaldi picked up the acting honours for their tender portrayal of Lix and Randall.

Once lovers, she had handed over their daughter for adoption in wartime France. In a moving scene in a pub, they tenderly talked of what had been and what might be. She leaned into him, he touched her hand. It was a masterclass in what television acting is all about.

If it's a masterclass in cooking you're after, MasterChef: the Professionals (BBC Two, Thursday) reached its conclusion with Plymouth chef Anton Piotrowski, 30, flying the flag for the Westcountry.

Leaving aside the amazing food, what I loved about Anton was his passion and enthusiasm. The son of a dockyard worker and a cook in a convent, his early love of food has grown into running a pub.

He interrupted his honeymoon with Clare – they've been together for ten years – to take part in MasterChef.

He admits he "got into a little bit of trouble" as a lad, but there's no doubting he's on the right road now.

His menu, in the words of Michel Roux Jnr, was "beautiful, impressive and creative... and tastes great too".

He marinated pollack in elderflower for a starter (with a squid ink crumble), opted for big, bold flavours with cocoa-marinated loin of venison for his main – accompanied by ox heart and a venison mix wrapped in nettles – and had a chocolate, caramel, banana flavoured dessert which had no less than 17 elements.

Judge Gregg Wallace loved the "big, bold, bad cooking".

One finalist, 23-year-old Oli Boon, made a schoolboy error and put his parfait in the fridge, rather than the freezer.

That left just Anton and Keri Moss, 41, in the running.

Both had performed brilliantly and cooked imaginative and beautiful food bursting with flavour. For the viewer, it was a close-run thing. I was pretty partisan, cheering on Anton, who runs the Treby Arms in Sparkwell.

In the end, it was a close-run thing for the judges too, declaring both Anton and Keri MasterChef winners for the first time in the show's history.

The week ended on a high, but it began on a low with psychological drama The Poison Tree (ITV1, Monday).

Rex Clarke (Matthew Goode) was released from prison after 12 years to return to wife Karen (MyAnna Buring) and their daughter.

In flashback we see the crime that led to his imprisonment and the role his unhinged sister Biba (Ophelia Lovibond) played in events.

I found it dull – except for being distracted by one of the locations: a home I'd seen before, possibly on Grand Designs. Nice architecture, shame about the acting...

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